I spent about two hours searching for the tags that fell off my dog’s collar. We retraced all the places she had been in the past day, tore apart the beds, couch and crate, and posted on the neighborhood Facebook page for others to be on the lookout.

As I considered why I was distraught about this, I realized it was because her tags are truly the only thing that is exclusively hers. The next dog will take up residence in “her” crate, play with the same toys, and even repurpose her collar. But the tags — they are Iris’. So we looked, and re-looked, and scoured the yard — before I remembered that had she escaped from the fence for about a minute when the neighbor’s dog came over — and sure enough, the tags were on the neighbor’s hill where she rolled while reveling in her freedom. Relief!

The episode was a reminder to me to be clear about the “why” behind your actions. I was not searching for functional reasons — I could easily have the ID replaced and she certainly doesn’t need the collection of rabies tags that are too worn down to even be legible. The hunt wasn’t about financial reasons either as it would only require a modest sum to get a new tag. No, I looked purely for sentimental purposes; to have “her something” when she’s gone. It explains why it consumed me for the better part of the morning and why I wouldn’t stop looking even when all logical places were thoroughly exhausted.

Understanding the motivation behind actions — yours or others — can go a long way in making sense out of the behaviors that result. Tag those emotions, and then act accordingly.

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